Vacation Checklist For Your Home
You’re heading south for a much-deserved vacation in the sun and sand and excitement is building, but what to do about protecting your home while away on holidays? Here’s a vacation checklist to help you get started.
It seems that there are many aspects of home care while away on holidays that many people don’t fully understand or don’t even know about, as well as considerations that slip people’s minds since they’re not dealing with the consequences of an issue like we often have to do at BlueCircle Insurance.
In regards to home insurance, all providers have some basic rules and requirements about having someone check up on your home and property on a regular basis.
The general rules is every 72 hours, though each insurance provider has their criteria, some as often as daily.
If you’re not sure, just ask your broker or insurance agent and make sure you know what is required, since non-compliance could result in a claim being denied if something were to happen during an extended absence.
And, just so you know, the reason for having regular checks on your home is fairly simple. Something like a water leak from a fully burst washing machine water hose can leak as much as 64,000 litres of water in a 24 hour period!! Obviously, the sooner a catastrophe like this gets noticed, the better, with less damage caused and quicker mitigation, resulting in lower costs to repair.
8 good tips to protect your home while away on vacation
Get a ‘House Sitter’. This can be a family member, friend or neighbour but there are also professional house sitter service providers who can be hired to do the job. This person can shovel your sidewalk or cut your grass, bring in the mail, maybe feed your cat or dog if required and, of course, do a walk through the house and garage to ensure there’s no issues (like that blown washing machine hose!).
Notify a trusted neighbour. Regardless of who’s doing the house-sitting it’s a good idea to let a neighbour you trust know you’re away, since they’ll have eyes on your place daily and at various times of the day too. And, of course, let the neighbour know if you’ve asked or hired someone to look after your place, since they’ll likely notice this person on the premises.
Don’t advertise your absence! Of course, you’ll let your trusted friends and neighbours that you’re away for a vacation but keep it to that small circle. This is especially critical when considering how most people are actively involved in daily social media and doing shout outs about their vacation on Facebook or SnapChat. This may be passing this information on to people you don’t know, and who you may not want to know your house is unoccupied during your vacation.
Notify the police. Perhaps it won’t change a thing but at least if the police know, they may be better prepared for a reaction to a call about suspicious activity or they may just do a drive by once in a while, perhaps at night when things are slower.
Don’t close your curtains. Yes, open curtains allow people to see in but closed curtains in daytime hours are an obvious indicator that something is unusual in the home and signal that the owners may be away. Also, closed curtains keep neighbours from noticing unusual activity inside the house, providing a burglar with some cover under which to work.
Don’t leave the lights on. Just like closed curtains, lights left on mean they’ll be on all night and this is another signal to everyone that the home is unoccupied. Consider getting a few timers to place on specific lights that will come on and then go off at times that are similar to your normal routine. And, of course, notify the neighbours or house sitter that you’ve done this too, so they’re aware and won’t report what may look like suspicious activity to the police.
Consider the electrical. Unplug things like chargers and other such devices that have a reputation for possibly overheating and potentially causing a fire. Some people like to unplug all their appliances and electronics too, to protect against power surges.
Think about Winter weather. Again, weather is a good reason to have that house-sitter coming in for a walk through on a regular basis, since our cold climate means the potential for freezing pipes and burst water lines should there ever be a power failure or a problem with a homeowners’ furnace. In fact, if no-one will be needing water for the toilet or sinks, consider shutting off the supply with the stop and waste valve typically located in the basement of your home. Should there be a burst pipe, the only leakage would be from the standing water in the pipe itself. As mentioned earlier, a leaky pipe or supply hose can discharge a lot of water in a short period of time, so consider the main water supply line valve being shut off as “an ounce of prevention”.
Motion activated lights installed in critical areas, such as along side of your house or in the backyard are an excellent deterrent, but keeping your home looking lived-in will certainly give would be burglars a reason to doubt and have them move along to another, easier target.
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For other tips on holiday safety, check out our posts: